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    How to Improve Your Cycling with Strength Training.

    How to Improve Your Cycling with Strength Training.

    Winter is fast approaching, well here in the UK it is. Nights are drawing in and as each day passes by, the hours of day light gets cut slightly shorter. If this means that getting out on the bike after work is going to be virtually impossible then we thought we would provide the ultimate lower body workout for cyclist which can help improve your biking performance. 


    IS STRENGTH TRAINING REALLY BENEFICIAL?


    There is much deliberation into the effectiveness of strength training for cyclists. Regardless of these arguments if you do not have the opportunity to get out on the bike then getting in a strength session seems far more effective to us than just sitting around on the sofa.


    Strength training is also becoming more and more important in the treatment and rehabilitation of muscle and tendon injuries such as tendinopathy, often in favour of stretching and flexibility exercises. It has been shown to help re-strengthen damaged tissues while decreasing the likelihood of a recurrence of the injury. 


    At the end of the day to get better at cycling though, you have to cycle. Simple as. But working in conjunction with a strength programme, can really help you to use your existing muscles more efficiently, tap into power you didn't have before, and perform better in the crucial late stages of your races.


    "BUILD ENDURANCE ON THE BIKE, STRENGTH IN THE GYM"


    Many believe adding too much muscle mass can play a negative effect in adding unwanted weight on the bike but you can significantly increase your strength without adding large amounts of muscle. Increasing your strength can improve your endurance, power production, and resilience to injury. This is why we have focused on lower rep ranges in the workout to focus on building strength rather than muscle mass. 


    SO HOW DOES STRENGTH HELP ENDURANCE ATHLETES?


    The strength-building mechanisms that help cycling performance are largely neurological. This means they have to come from teaching your body to better use the muscle it has, rather than from adding lots of new muscle.


    This has the potential to benefit you in a number of ways. For instance, endurance training typically relies largely on the recruitment of slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers have great stamina as it is, but researchers have concluded that strength training improves the maximum strength of these fibers, which further increases the time it takes to work them to exhaustion. This allows you to reserve your fast-twitch fibers for later in a race or time trial. Heavy strength training develops fast-twitch fibers far more effectively than light high-rep training


    So here is our training programme written by Strength and conditioning coach and triathlete Harry Luscombe.


    Session 


    Squats 
    Squats are an excellent exercise for training the lower body and core muscles.


    MUSCLE GROUPS


    Squats are primarily a lower body exercise and works out the following muscles; quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, hip adductors, hip abductors, gastrocnemius (calf), soleus, tibias anterior, rectus abdominals and erector spinae  


    STEP BY STEP GUIDE


    Stand tall with your feet hip width apart and the bar resting just behind your neck.
    Start to lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees and pushing your body weight into your heels
    Keep a neutral spine at all times and never let your knees go over your toes
    The lower body should be parallel with the floor and your chest should be lifted at all times not rounded.
    Pause then lift back up in a controlled movement to the starting position

     

    Repetitions - 6 Reps
    Sets - 4 Sets 


    Deadlift 
    Deadlifts are an excellent exercise to develop hamstring, lower back and core strength. 


    MUSCLE GROUPS


    Deadlifts works out the following muscles; hamstrings, abdominals, gluteus maximus and  erector spinae (Lower Back)


    STEP BY STEP GUIDE


    Walk to the bar. Stand with your mid-foot under the bar. Don't touch it with your shins yet.
    Grab the bar. Narrow, about shoulder-width apart. ...
    Bend your knees. Keep going until your shins touch the bar.
    Lift your chest. Straighten your back. 
    Pull up taking a big breath, hold it and stand up. Keeping your head in line with the spine as you lift - when you reach the top of the lift push the chest out and the shoulders back before lowering with a straight back whilst bending the knees. 


    Repetitions - 6
    Sets - 4


    Hamstring Curls 
    Hamstring Curls are as you guessed an excellent exercise to develop your hamstrings


    MUSCLE GROUPS


    Hamstrings and gluteus maximus 


    STEP BY STEP GUIDE


    For the lying leg curl machine - adjust the machine lever to fit your height and lie face down on the leg curl machine with the pad of the lever on the back of your legs (just a few inches under the calves). Tip: Preferably use a leg curl machine that is angled as opposed to flat since an angled position is more favorable for hamstrings recruitment.
    Keeping the torso flat on the bench, ensure your legs are fully stretched and grab the side handles of the machine. Position your toes straight. This will be your starting position.
    As you exhale, curl your legs up as far as possible without lifting the upper legs from the pad. Once you hit the fully contracted position, hold it for a second.
    As you inhale, bring the legs back to the initial position. 


    Repetitions - 8
    Sets - 3


    Walking Lunges 
    Walking lunges are a great exercise for the quads but also core stability.


    MUSCLE GROUPS


    Gluteus Maximus, hamstrings, core and quads


    STEP BY STEP GUIDE


    Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
    Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. 


    Repetitions - 10
    Sets - 3

     

    Strength Training for Triathletes

    Strength Training for Triathletes

    After discussing with multiple fitness and strength experts, triathletes and triathlon coaches, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this but rather a series of questions and criteria to help you make your own informed decision. Just as athletes have differing opinions about strength training, so too do coaches and medical professionals. Factors such as an athlete’s injury history, age, goals and perhaps most important, weekly time constraints all must be considered.

     

    There are a number of triathletes that firmly believe, strength training has a place in every training regimen. If triathletes are trained properly with their strength training, their muscular systems typically become stronger and will be able to perform at a higher level all whilst using less energy. Understanding which muscles and muscle groups are used the most in triathlons is fundamental when implementing a strength training program. 

     

    Although, swim, bike, run and recovery occupy the majority of any triathletes training time, and everything else is supplemental based on available hours in the week. Strength training can be beneficial for improving overall muscular endurance and can be a weapon in any triathlete’s inventory, but it may not be the one that lands the killing blow.

     

    Many triathletes and triathlon coaches negate strength training all together and believe excess muscle being hauled around on the course is more of a hindrance. Whilst some believe that with adequate swimming, running and cycling drills being performed in training all the relevant muscle groups that need to be trained are trained. 

     

    Performing the correct exercises and working the entire muscular system can help create a balanced body, which can actually help prevent injuries. Understanding the correct exercise, number of sets and repetitions is crucial in targeting specific areas and working the right muscles. The strength training has to be specific. There is no point an ironman athlete walking around the gym pushing out one rep out on his maximum load – the training must be specific to the sport. So lots of repetitions with a higher number of sets with a lower weight load working till fatigue is in my opinion the optimum weight session for triathletes looking to get into strength training.

     

    I am a firm believer in lifting weights and taking part in strength based activities to improve performance. Setting out extra time to partake in strength training exercises during the week is a crucial part of my workout plan. Obviously swimming, cycling and running does take president however finding ample time for a specific and relevant strength training plan can be a crucial part of a triathletes training plan.